Beyond the criteria for selecting good energy optimization products and services, there is a range of best practices to adopt, both before and during the purchase deliberations. These include having a good profile of your current energy use, ensuring that the current system is being used as efficiently as possible, and thinking through what you really need in the way of products or services.
Having a good handle on your energy use means you understand where, how, and how much energy is used at your facilities, Cooke says. Otherwise, it's going to be very difficult to prove the results of any energy optimization effort, he says.
In addition, it helps to narrow down where to invest effort. "If I know I have 25 percent of my energy load in lighting and 30 percent on air conditioning and 10 percent on water, I'm going to focus my investment on the higher areas versus the lower percentage areas," he says.
Further, before buying a new product or service, make sure what you already have is being operated as efficiently as possible, says Mitten. "Make sure you have gotten the efficiency that's already in your system," he says. If the existing equipment is not operated optimally, the anticipated savings from new equipment likely won't materialize, he says.
Before making the first calls to sales reps, facility managers should be clear on their criteria for a product or service. And they should also be clear on needs versus wants, says Offermann. "Facility managers go out there with 'I want' or 'I need' thoughts, and by the time they get the product delivered, it's missing 50 percent of what they truly need it to do because they've been sold on bells and whistles that may sound really great at the time but don't necessarily do what they need it to do."
Tied to having clear performance criteria in mind is removing prejudice, says Offermann. Sometimes a facility manager may associate a negative connotation with a company and so write them off completely, even though they may have the best product on the market, he says. "When you're sitting down and evaluating any product or service, you have to remove your personal prejudices from it and look at it on an even playing field," he says.
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